Health care students bound for nationals

Posted: March 20, 2014

The Winchester Star

James Wood High School Health Occupations Students of America club members who placed first at states include Sidney Furr (from left), Mira Bagous, Ashley Dunbar and Sara Stine. Luciana Codella (not pictured) also took first. See story, Page B4 (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)
James Wood High School Health Occupations Students of America club members Karla Colina (from left), 17, Larissa LaMaster, 16, and their teammate, Mia Sorenson (not pictured) placed fifth in the public service announcement category; Brittany Lewis, 17, placed fifth in extemporaneous writing and fifth in medical terminology; Lauren Chamberlain, 15, Claire Bright, 15, and Keirten Vincent, 15, placed fourth in the Public Health, opening Pandora’s Box category. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — Five James Wood High School students are advancing to a national competition for future health care professionals after placing first at the state level.

Sophomores Mira Bagous and Sidney Furr, junior Luciana Codella, and seniors Ashley Dunbar and Sara Stine placed first at the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) State Leadership Conference in Roanoke earlier this month.

More than 1,000 students from across Virginia attended the conference and competed in 52 events. The top three finishers in each event qualified for the national competition in Orlando, Fla., from June 25-28.

“It’s phenomenal,” said club adviser Cindy Forse. “We’ve only had one first place [finisher] in the past five years, so having five in one year is phenomenal. It just shows the caliber and dedication of these students.”

Mira, who participated in the biotechnology category, took a written test and performed laboratory skills, such as sterilizing equipment and inoculating and streaking a Petri dish containing a growth medium used to culture microorganisms.

“I want to be a doctor, so this was a good experience for me to learn what is done in a laboratory,” she said. “I was quite surprised I’d won because I was against seniors who are in vo-tech schools and work in labs.”

Sidney participated in the medical photography category, in which she had to take pictures of three medical professionals performing certain procedures pertinent to their field. She also had to write a one-page narrative about each photo.

Her favorite part was taking a picture of an ophthalmologist performing a procedure on an eyelid.

“It was more graphic than the other two [procedures] and showed a surgery being done,” she said.

Ashley and Sara competed in medical terminology and human growth and development, respectively.

Ashley said she had to answer 100 multiple-choice and 20 fill-in-the-blank questions.

“I’m excited,” she said about going to nationals. “I thank Ms. Forse for all that she’s done.”

Sara also had to take a test. She said the HOSA club has helped her figure out that she wants to work in the health care field and help others.

“I think you see a lot of different sides of the medical field and not just about doctors,” she said. “You can do a lot of things. You have a lot of opportunities.”

Luciana, who was unavailable for an interview, placed first in clinical specialty.

Along with the five first place finishers, senior Brittany Lewis placed fourth in extemporaneous writing and fifth in medical terminology.

A freshmen team of Keirsten Nicholson-Vincent, Lauren Chamberlain and Claire Bright placed fourth in public health.

A junior team of Mia Sorenson, Karla Colina and Larissa LaMaster placed fifth in the public service announcement category.

HOSA is an after-school club. Students hear presentations from local health professionals and perform a variety of service work, such as raising money for various charities and gift wrapping at the mall.

The James Wood HOSA chapter is the only one in the region and has been active for five years. It has 62 members, with 14 of those who went to states.

Last year, Mira and Ashley made it to the national competition, where Mira placed second.

— Contact Rebecca Layne at